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Just as there is no magic pill to prevent cognitive decline, there is no single brain food that can ensure a sharp mind as you age. Nutritionists emphasize that the most important strategy is to follow a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Try to get protein from plant and fish sources and choose lean fats such as olive or canola oil over saturated fats.
Mind Diet 9 Foods To Eat
Research shows that the best brain foods are those that protect your heart and blood vessels, including the following:
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For more information on how to stay sharp as you age, read The Guide to Cognitive Fitness, a special report from Harvard Medical School.
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In this special report, doctors from Harvard Medical School share a six-step program that can produce significant and lasting results. Together, these “super 6” can boost your cognitive abilities, improve your memory skills, and maintain the brain skills necessary for a full, rewarding, and independent life. From simple and specific dietary changes to ways to manage your mind, this is a guide that will benefit you and your future.
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Get helpful tips and advice on everything from fighting infection to finding the best diet for weight loss… from exercise to building a strong core to eye treatment advice. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and discoveries from experts at Harvard Medical School. A growing body of research shows that certain foods have a nutritional basis for maintaining mental sharpness.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cognitive decline is more common than you might expect, affecting 1 in 9 adults in the United States. Fortunately, research shows that a few everyday habits can reduce your risk of diseases like dementia – including paying attention to what’s in your food basket and on your plate.
“A general dietary pattern of eating whole foods from a variety of food groups and very little processed food is the most beneficial when it comes to improving mental health outcomes,” says Bonnie J Kaplan PhD, psychologist researcher and author. Yes
Highly processed foods, which are usually packaged snacks and drinks that are high in sodium, added sugar and saturated fat, appear to be the main culprits in the risk of cognitive decline, but shockingly, they make up a large part of the typical Western diet. Replacing 10 percent of highly processed foods in an individual’s diet with an equal amount by weight of unprocessed or less processed foods was associated with a 19 percent reduction in dementia risk, according to a study published in July 2022 in Neurology that followed 72,083 adults 55 or older for an average of 10 years. . “A poor diet not only fails to provide essential nutrients to protect the brain, but adds insult to injury by flooding the brain with harmful substances,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, Salem, Oregon-based author.
So definitely, food is one of the most important supplements we can attract when it comes to mental health. Some foods contain compounds that help your brain function better, while others lack essential nutrients for mental health. And you might be surprised by some of the foods you can eat that can help reset your brain clock and improve your mental state. Here’s a list of foods (and one drink) to remember and add to your grocery list to fuel your noodles.
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This inexpensive canned fish is one of the best sources of long-chain omega-3 fats in the store, which some studies suggest may help with age-related cognitive decline. A study in the journal Nutrition of 6,587 adults found that consumption of fatty fish, including sardines and salmon, and a moderate intake of omega-3 fatty acids from the sea were associated with fewer symptoms of depression. A study published in July 2021 in the BMJ found that a high intake of omega-3s was associated with fewer headaches in those who suffered from headaches.
“We’re basically obese because our brain is 60 percent fat,” said Dr. Kaplan, referring to fat in the gray matter. “So our brain cell walls need healthy fats, including omega-3s, to function properly.” He adds that eating less of the omega-3 and omega-6 fats found in highly processed foods can improve their ratio in our diet to help reduce brain inflammation and make it easier to maintain good cognitive function. “We still don’t know the optimal amount of seafood to eat for brain health, but a good suggestion is to aim for two servings of oily fish per week,” says Kaplan.
Canned sardines are also a good source of vitamin D. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving provides 193 IU, or 24 percent of the daily value, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrition Facts. The researchers found that older individuals with the highest dietary vitamin D intake were less likely to develop dementia compared to those with the lowest dietary vitamin D intake, even after accounting for various dementia risk factors. The findings were published in September 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. “We can’t expect to improve brain health with just one vitamin, but vitamin D can be considered important along with all the other nutrients,” Kaplan said. “Any nutrient deficiency, including vitamin D, is never good news for brain function.”
Few Americans get enough vitamin D from sunlight or food sources, so adding canned sardines to your diet more often may be a smart move. Try the mini sandwiches, pasta and frittatas.
Foods That Help Headaches
Could tossing strawberries into your oatmeal or yogurt or smoothies protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe so, say RUSH University researchers. Their research, published in the July 2022 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, found that a compound abundant in strawberries (more so than other common fruits) called pelargonidin may be linked to neurofibrillary tau tangles in the brain. This is important because abnormal changes in the tau protein in the brain are considered one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The authors of this study believe that pelargonidin’s anti-inflammatory properties may reduce overall neuroinflammation, which may help prevent the misfolding of these tau proteins, allowing better absorption of nutrients and other important substances from one part of the brain’s nerve cells to another.
Currently, we don’t have enough evidence to say how many strawberries a person needs to eat to get the mental benefits, but you probably can’t go wrong with ½ cup of this sweet, juicy fruit a day.
We must also remember that strawberries and other fruits can be a daily source of water to help maintain good hydration. According to previous research, dehydration can lead to serious impairments in brain function, including working memory and executive function.
Perhaps not all lenses are created equal when it comes to protecting our gray matter. A study published in September 2021 in Neurology found that adults who ate at least half of foods rich in plant flavonoids each day had a 20 percent reduced risk of cognitive decline compared to those who ate fewer foods rich in flavonoids. The results, based on data from 49,493 women and 27,842 men, also revealed that anthocyanins – commonly found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries and black lentils – have some of the most protective effects against cognitive decline of any single flavonoid. “These compounds have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that may promote brain health and help prevent early cognitive loss,” Somer said.
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Black lentils, like all beans, are also an excellent source of fiber. Most people can’t find it
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